Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Review: Wednesday 2nd May 2012

There is a certain joy that accompanies the anticipation of food. Particularly in the age of technology, one has the ability to read about what it is to come, through reviews, menus, photos, as you eagerly await the day of dining.

And so, we had booked in an evening reservation at Foveaux and were excited about the degustation menu that dangled so closely in front of us. Yet the seasons had changed and so had the menu. Stymied but for a moment, we quickly gathered ourselves and picked from an equally interesting new menu. With six courses to come, work the next day and a restaurant that would at some point close... there was no time for the traditional dilly-dallying and we displayed unheard of efficiency picking between the two options for each course.

Our effervescent server with his slight Jonah Hill feel about him, jovially took our order and brought us our bread and supplementary oyster.  The oyster is pretty decent with its cab sav vinegar pearls - bearing an interesting resemblance to caviar. However, Nosh insists that good bread is the marker of a quality restaurant but in this case she's "had better".
oyster with cabernet sauvignon pearls and eschallots

The amusing diatribe on bread is cut short by the arrival of our amuse-bouche. Today it is a pumpkin, burnt butter and fetta soup with subtle buttery flavours which can only be described as warmth in a bowl... or glass rather!
pumpkin, burnt butter and fetta soup

A Buffalo Ricotta Cannoli presents itself to me next. Smooth creamy ricotta is encased in a crisp samosa-like pastry. The balance between the creaminess of the ricotta is well balanced with the refreshing accompaniments. The others enjoy a Seared Bonito with Mushroom Milk and Black Sesame Paste which at first startles the tongue with its intense flavours. The combination however works together in an interesting way and grows on you. Somehow the flavours are reminescent of a deconstructed sushi... it's perhaps not a dish for everyone but generally liked by my companions.
buffalo ricotta canoli, cucumber, tomato, olive and provencal herbs
seared bonito, black sesame, mushroom milk, puffed rice with pickled vegetables

In fact, at Foveaux, this seems to be the Chef's speciality. Each dish uses modern techniques in subtle ways and brings together a flavour profile that you may think should be overpowering, and indeed each element tried on its own may be, but when combined together there is a refinement in the flavours. It just works.

Our next course displays the same principles. I have opted for the cleverly boneless chicken wing, with a slightly unexpected Asian influence with soy, chilli and honey flavours prevailing. The boneless chicken wing reminds us of why fine dining is in fact so fine! No bones to pick here...literally! There is no work to be done to eat your food, just ease in appreciating the flavours.

crispy chicken wing, scallop, creamed curly kale and smocked hock glaze
While I analyse my chicken dish, my companion, Teacakes, is eyeing her choice of venison tongue nervously.

"It looks a little too real" she states but never one to say no to food she digs in with gusto and decides she likes it. A bonus is the cauliflower puree that accompanies it. I try it and have to agree that cauliflower has never tasted so good! 
caramelised venison tongue, nham pla prawns, crispy pork skin, cauliflower cream, cashew, shiso and mint
Finally... a small break as we waited for our next course and a chance to look around the room. Elegant yet cosy, the ambience at Foveaux is the perfect counterpart to the meal. A cosy long dining room with neutral colours and all the way at the back a kitchen where you can see the long-haired Chefs work their magic. As the eyes wander across the walls, a slight jarring effect is created by some of the more unique art pieces on the wall, which are in fact for sale. A slightly disturbing large black protuding swans body hangs from the wall, it's head dangling down like a noose. It does add character if nothing else.

Surf 'n' turf is next on the agenda and although not huge fans of it generally, Nosh and I have taken the plunge and chosen baked gurnard (a fish!) with soya braised veal tail. This actually ends up being a very exciting dish. The fish on it's own is neither here nor there but accompanied with the tender succulent veal tail, it lifts its game. A boldly flavoured sauce, a celery puree true to its origin and snow peas make this dish a winner. Contrasted with the wintery, dense flavours in our dish, Teacakes' mulloway with mussels and a caponata vinaigrette contains light, airy flavours. It looks good but I'm happy to have ordered the gurnard. 

baked gurnard, celery puree, soya braised veal tail, hazelnut and snow peas
We've reached a degree of fullness now and count the courses left. Still mains, pre dessert and dessert to go! What's exciting is that the courses have progressed in appeal through the degustation and the main course is no exception. Nosh contemplates the white anchovy puree accompanying her veal sirloin and as has happened a lot tonight, a potentially strong flavour is not at all overpowering. She loves the veal and caper chip, a breaded fried roll of tender shredded veal. Her faith in the chef is rewarded and she loves the dish. 
roasted veal sirloin, veal and caper chip, white anchovy puree and brussel sprouts
My own dish, a roast venison leg with mushroom puree is excellent. Game must be cooked with expertise and I have eaten some in the past with varied results. This one however is well-cooked, delicate and soft. A highlight of this dish is the textures and contrast provided by crunchy spaetzle and pickled red cabbage with apple and spanish onion. This spaetzle is very different to the boiled noodle-like version I've eaten in Germany but the crunch adds pop to the dish.

roasted venison leg, mushroom puree, juniper oil, spaetzle, pickled red cabbage with apple and spanish onion

We are now completely full and wondering how we'll handle dessert... but behold the powers of a palate cleanser! This course, the pre-dessert, is one of my favourites tonight. It is a cleverly deconstructed version of cheese on an oat cracker with grapes. A sweet but grape-y sorbet is paired with a Jindie brie cream  and oats. The result is super exciting. Cheese and sorbet? The idea sounds insane... but a phrase I've used before in this post pops up again... "it just works". The brie cream is particularly of note... subtle, soft, not sweet but not savoury.
grape sorbet, jindie brie cream and oats

Dessert is just as interesting, a thyme parfait with lemon sponge and curd and an superbly flavoured blueberry sorbet. Teacakes has the chocolate mousse, which interestingly tastes like a deconstructed Jaffa but the mousse is fairly rich.
thyme parfait, lemon curd, blueberry sorbet, macadamia nut and dried lemon sponge
chocolate mousse, orange sponge, orange curd ice cream, chocolate soil and brazil nut
We've had a good night and finally pay our bill. We are the last ones to leave the restaurant along with a jovial table of 12 that is there for a birthday. I arrive home and upon checking my email coincidentally see an offer for Foveaux in an e-mail from Groupon. Damn! At about $30 for two courses (Chef's choice of dish, Mon-Thurs evening only) it's definitely a good deal and one you should take up if you like your food interesting!

Foveaux Restaurant is open Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to late and for Thursday lunch 12-3pm.
1/65-67 Foveaux St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tel: 02 9211 0664

Overall impression: For a special night out in a cosy setting with interesting food, this is the place to be.
Value: $$$$ For a restaurant in this category the price is not to bad at all. The degustation is $85 for six courses with matching wines for either $35 or $55. A la carte entrees are $24, mains $36 and desserts $16.

Vegetarian Options As always we're on the lookout for vegetarian options and apart from some a la carte options, Foveaux has a whole degustation menu catered towards vegetarians. It looks like good value, with such dishes as the ricotta cannoli I mentioned above, tofu, and the cauliflower cream we all loved served with mushrooms and sunny side up instead of venison (although that dish would have to be modified for those that don't eat egg). Also on the tasting menu is a "caramelised olive oil gratin"... and if anyone ever gets a chance to try this please let me know how it is as it sounds fascinating!

Foveaux on Urbanspoon


  1. This is such an interesting & exciting read! love it!! keep em coming :)


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